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Review of grading patterns within undergrad courses

The 1999 UAPC and Deans review of grading practices recommended the Office of Academic Planning and Analysis periodically provide information comparing the distribution of grades among primary sections of the same course. In response to the recommendation of the UAPC in March 2007 to make this information more widely available, we are now sharing it with applicable department chairs. It is also posted online at apa.wisc.edu/degrees_grades.html.

This document provides an updated analysis based on courses taught in Fall 2008 for lower division courses having multiple primary sections in fall semesters. These charts show the distribution of undergraduate letter grades in courses numbered below 400 that have multiple primary sections of at least 30 undergraduates in each section. Cross-listed courses are included in the primary department and are indicated by the “[XL]” symbol appended to the course title. Variable credit courses are excluded. Data for all schools/colleges are included to provide you with an overview of grading patterns in this type of course. If you have questions regarding the content presented in the attached charts, please contact Bruce Beck at 263-4240 or bdbeck@wisc.edu.

In many of the courses shown in the charts, the grade distributions of the multiple sections are similar. In some other courses, the distribution of grades varies considerably between sections of the same course. Real differences in student abilities may account for some of this variation. However, another possible source of variation between sections may be differences in instructor grading practices. Please identify and review those courses where you think differences between section grade distributions are significant

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